The past few weeks have been uncharacteristically quiet, giving the fellows a much needed reprieve to work on individual projects, learn new music, prepare for auditions, and catch-up on rest.
Just before our break began, we were fortunate to have Tad Gray, a Chicago-based finance expert, lead us in a workshop concerning how to best manage our personal finances. Tad is a not just a financial planner – he’s also a musician, married to a musician, and the father of two musicians. This established an easy rapport within our group, and he tailored his workshop to the life of someone who is self-employed — as is the case with most freelance musicians. He guided us through everything from how to save money — for the future or for large purchases, such as instruments – to the best ways to cut costs in our everyday lives (remember, Intelligentsia coffee is a choice!). He left us documents on smart investments, credit card selection, and tax preparation. These are invaluable resources , especially for those of us who have inconsistent incomes from our freelance lives.
In the two weeks since the financial seminar, many of the fellows used their free time to meet with young music students at suburban schools. My colleague Kip and I went to West Chicago High School, where we worked with band and orchestra students. We performed short works for our respective classes (band for me, orchestra for Kip), took questions from the students, and worked with them on repertoire they are preparing for upcoming concerts. The students were bright and inquisitive, and asked so many excellent questions about music and life that it left little time to work on the actual music! It was a wonderful day and provided an excellent chance to get out of the city. Seeing these young students have the opportunity to work with such dedicated and talented educators brought back memories of my time in high school music classes, and how I was inspired by my teachers to pursue this career.
At the beginning of May, the fellows took part in one our colleague’s individual projects. Kip Riecken, our wonderful viola fellow, is a major proponent of the Alexander Technique and has been exploring this system for the past few months. For his project, he selected two members of the Civic Orchestra to learn the Alexander Technique and followed their progress on his blog (which absolutely is worth a read!). The musicians received several lessons with a highly experienced teacher, Lisa DiAngelis. For the project’s finale, Kip invited all members of Civic to take part in a group class led by Lisa. For many, it was our first exposure to the technique, and it truly was eye-opening. Learning just some of the ways in which we can better our posture while playing was very helpful, and something many of us will undoubtedly continue to think about for years to come.
Rested and reoriented, the fellows are looking forward to a very busy yet rewarding end to the season.
Cover Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography